After many years of planning and 18 months of careful construction, including the renovation of the original 1854 ironstone winery, St Hugo’s new home in the Barossa has officially opened. In a distinct nod to the wines they produce, the building you’ll find at the end of the cork tree-lined drive is welcoming, elegant and luxurious; prepare to be impressed.
When you enter the wine lounge and bar, your eyes are drawn past the inviting brown leather lounges surrounding the glass-backed fireplace, to the floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase the surrounding land. The sweeping views can be enjoyed from anywhere in the room and will only become more picturesque as the young vines, planted to commemorate the team at St Hugo and those who helped to create their new home, continue to grow.
Warm and welcoming, the space has been designed with clean lines and a focus on the finer details so that nothing interrupts your enjoyment of the wine, which is clearly the star of the show. Even the menus created for the intimate 50-seat restaurant, with it’s ironstone walls and arched picture windows, have been designed around the wine, rather than the other way around.
Executive Chef Mark McNamara, who has called the Barossa home since 1992, says, “it’s not a story of us coming up with a menu and then trying to fit the wines around it; we actually start with the wines first.” The creation of each dish takes a full day. They start with the wine and the whole team, five chefs in total, taste around 50 different flavours between them. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and spicy flavours are sampled, along with textures provided by fats, oils and butters. Each chef takes their own personal notes, which they then compare as a team in order to choose the four or five ingredients that best enhance the experience of the wine. From those key flavours and textures, a stunning dish is created, providing the perfect accompaniment to the glass that has been poured for your enjoyment. “It’s not about us, our food or our ego”, Mark says. “It’s all about Dan’s wines”.
Dan Swincer, the man behind the wine, is the Chief Winemaker at St Hugo. From the moment you meet him, his passion for the brand and for the wines they create is abundantly clear. From tasting the fruit in the vineyard to blending the wines after harvest, Dan focuses steadfastly upon producing premium wines with power and elegance, in line with the brand’s philosophy. With the Home of St Hugo now open, Dan sees this as an excellent opportunity for everyone, regardless of their level of knowledge, to come in and experience the nuances and complexities of the wine he creates. “You don’t have to be a wine geek to come in and experience this, to experience the differences, and to see what makes a wine great”, he says.
St Hugo offers wines by the glass from $10 and wine flights from $15. The Premium Wine Flight includes a side-by-side tasting of two glasses of Barossa Shiraz so that people can experience just how different two wines from the same region can be. “Not many people get to taste two wines from two different regions within the Barossa, from the same vintage and made by the same winemaker, side by side to experience the difference”, Dan says. The two wines he refers to are the 2012 Rowland Flat Region Shiraz and the 2012 Seppeltsfield Region Shiraz and we can attest; the difference between the two is truly remarkable.
The Home of St Hugo is open seven days a week for tastings, tours, or to simply enjoy the experience of drinking beautiful wine in a beautiful setting. The restaurant offers four or eight course degustation menus for lunch and dinner, including a Chef’s Table if you’re after something extra-special. They also offer more tailored experiences and tastings downstairs in their barrel alcove, and the ability to host private and corporate functions in the impressive Hugo Gramp Room, with it’s walls lined with hundreds of St Hugo back vintages and the centrepiece a beautifully carved 1.6tonne table that took 20 people to lift into the room. Bespoke and luxurious experiences are also on offer, unlike anything seen in the Barossa to date. Wine and food matching experiences in the kitchen with Mark and immersive, personalised experiences for luxury travellers ranging from one to three days in length are available for an unparalleled and exquisite experience of St Hugo, the Barossa and beyond.
St Hugo’s new home is located at 2141 Barossa Valley Way, Rowland Flat. Open 7 days, 10.30am-4.30pm except Good Friday and Christmas Day. For lunch and dinner bookings visit www.sthugo.com, telephone 08 8115 9200 or email [email protected].